Sweet Violet

Viola odorata
Category Ground Cover
Size 4"
Flower Color Deep Purple, Blue, Violet, Lavender, Pink, or White, depending on variety
Flower Season Late Winter through Late Spring
Exposure Partial Shade to Light Shade
Water Regular Irrigation
Growth Rate Fast
Hardiness 20°F


The fast-growing, long-lived evergreen reaches four inches tall with aromatic, violet flowers and small, heart-shaped foliage that is slightly serrated and dark green in color. It grows in a rosette with creeping runners that root and spread. The plant produces fragrant, five-petal flowers in deep purple, blue, violet, lavender, pink, or white, depending on variety. The flowers are edible and last from late winter through late spring. Historically, both the flowers and foliage have provided medicinal benefits and have been used to treat respiratory problems and other ailments. The flowers can also be used to decorate salads and deserts. The ancient Greeks used the violet as a symbol of love and fertility. It was also used in love potions. Sweet violet goes dormant in the Southwest desert during the hot weather, but looks beautiful other times of the year. It likes partial shade to light shade conditions. Give it regular irrigation but do not over-water. This plant is hardy into the low twenties Fahrenheit, and prefers rich, well-draining soil and good fertilization in the spring. Sweet violet spreads quickly by short runners or can be propagated by seeds. Use it for color or a woodsy effect under the shade of a tree, as a border plant, and in planters and containers. It is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa and has naturalized all over the world.